BBC – Travel – The origin of the world’s first travel weblog
Outside of Havana’s Hotel Nacional, the city is delightful: a Spanish-based port is in the midst of celebrating 500 years. Bel-Airs and Buick vintage changers are changing the streets, painted with paint. Fireworks and ancient fires fill the sky in the middle of the night, and songs are sung in the bars along Obispo Street. Together with Calle Galiano, connected by a network of white and cloud-based LED networks bringing in galaxies, locals dancing and drinking rum. At the border of Habana Vieja, Old Havana, the newly restored Capitol dome shines like a polished helmet.
Seven planes beneath me, at the point where they appear on my window, a fighting figure floating on an electric island. By midnight 100,000 people will fill the stadium, dancing to a free annual commemorative concert.
Five planes on the ground, meanwhile, on the Nacional mezzanine, is the business center of the hotel. Its cold glass doors contain jazzy gold letters: INTERNET. And as her computer models remind her, I have come to celebrate the anniversary.
I did a little miracle: I downloaded the first travel notes published on the World Wide Web
Twenty-five years ago, at the beginning of the internet era, I started flying around the world – from Oakland, California, to Oakland, California – without stepping on a plane. Along the way, I performed a small miracle: I downloaded the first tour guide published on the World Wide Web.
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Cuba feels like the right place to do its peak. The country is one of the world’s most popular social networking sites, with less than 40% of its citizens having access to the Internet during a government crackdown. But even this is very different from 1994, when the term “World Wide Web” surprised almost everyone I met on my return trip around the world. However, the isolation of Cuba by the use of networks around the world reminds me of those pioneer days.
But unlike the previous four trips on the island, I wouldn’t need computer dinosaurs hiding in its financial center. As a paid guest of Nacional, I have been given a username and password that allow me, as the stars interact, to be online from my room.
Back in 1993 and 1994, during the nine months of the international odyssey, I was a missionary. O’Reilly Media, a well-known publisher of science fiction, asked me to bring real-life stories from a variety of sources along the way. Along the way, I picked up one of the first (perhaps the most original) laptops to carry. Made by Hewlett-Packard, the OmniBook 300 was a small, sleek, high-performance AA and AC battery. It had a beautiful exit mouse, and a built-in modem.
O’Reilly (one of the first online companies) created a website called Global Network Navigator. It planned to send my senders to its page under the name “Big World,” linking each article with its location on the world map. Click the country, and you will see the story. Today, the chimpanzee can make a leaf, but in 1994, it was water. Mosaic, the most popular browser on the World Wide Web and making it easy to use, was only launched a few months before I left.
Back in those days, you could read web pages
The Internet was Wild West; I could have bought “pizza.com” for $ 20. No one has written online travel notes before. Back in those days, you could read the pages of the website (a list that includes The Exploratorium, Doctor Fun, and Chabad). But there were no such things as a “blog” visit – the term “web advertising” could not be made for another four years.
So I went, and I entered a country where even email was foreign. Writing on OmniBook was easy. The hard part came when I was trying to deliver my delivery home from as far away as Dakar and Lhasa. My first article, sent from Oaxaca on 6 January 1994, was called the One Hundred Nanoseconds of Solitude. The process of returning to the Big World took two days, when I picked up the city headquarters and spoke to its experts (I never spoke Spanish), finally finding someone who figured out how to send my 2,500 shipments, without photos, via phone to California.
Forty years later, there will be over half a billion blogs online
The only way to get the most reliable internet connection in the world to be able to send any of the 20 messages I sent in the end was crazy. But he was also very immersed. In 1994, posting a blog was difficult: it forced me to connect with people I wouldn’t want on a regular trip. In my scattered harbor, I chatted with local telephone operators (Turkey), embassies (China), computer operators (Kathmandu), and even sailors (Ursus Delmas, and across the Atlantic). They all enjoyed what I was doing. The idea of posting online travel articles was relatively new, and few people thought it could go on – but everyone saw the potential in it.
Everyone, I think, but me. Little did I know that I was drinking hot Mexican chocolate with the head of the Oaxaca branch of work as my first pen, that in a hundred years, there will be more than half a billion blogs on the Internet – with hundreds of thousands looking to travel alone.
Somehow, I missed the boat (although I found a carrier to take me home from Hong Kong back to Oakland). Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, I continued to publish and publish magazines of various magazines online. But it never occurred to me that I should position myself as a talented blogger. I never thought about “putting myself in one place” or even arguing about most of my little ones, even though I was a pioneer, e-footprint. As of 2010, I am not writing travel blogs at all. Meanwhile, bribes from the stone I threw on the World Wide Web have turned into a tsunami, with some traveling bloggers (and their traveling students, Instagram editors) making less money.
When I took Coke (one of the few American things you see in Cuba) from my small minibar and mixed it with Havana Club, I asked myself: Why did I stand up? I think it has something to do with why I was encouraged to travel earlier. It is not just immersion; It is also confusing.
Years ago, while living in Kathmandu, I flew from San Francisco to Nepal. Anything left unattended or ignored – anyone I forgot to contact before I packed my wallet on the financial streets – was a thing of the past. Each trip was an opportunity for me to re-challenge myself and experience the unusual that disrupted and nurtured my worldview. This was a way to get my life back on track, and to get rid of myself.
In 1994, the goose chase to find a connection and record digital transmissions was a rare occurrence. It made me rely on professional people, whether in Senegal or in Shanghai. By the end of the millennium, however, blogging was a major factor in isolating oneself online, and paying for minutes. I did it when necessary, but it didn’t feel like exercise or distractions. The former transport system has moved on.
The former transport system has moved on.
Don’t understand me. This is not about the “right” or “wrong” way to go. Although I have always been concerned about the late 2000s, the trade between immersion and interconnection, I know they do not agree. Like anything else in life, it is a matter of setting proper priorities. When I read what Israel posted from 2004, or my Cuban blogs from 2011, they are immersed as everything I have written.
But from where I live right now – in my Malécon crowd-watching room, with the Latin Havana movement shaking my windows – I realize that writing this, and trying to put it on Nacional WiFi, is not a distraction. It’s confusing. Where I really want to be, right now, is immersed in external chaos.
So, I leave here, and I get there. Because 40 years after I launched the Big World mission, we live on a very small planet – a place where, for me, jumping is a new phenomenon.
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